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Originally Posted by callmemama
You could also look up work by anthropologist Katherine Dettwyler.
quote:although it is not the norm in most industrial cultures, UNICEF and the World Health Organization both advise breast-feeding to "two years and beyond." Indeed, a child's immune response does not reach its full strength until age five or so.
"How Breastmilk Protects Newborns"
by Dr. Jack Newman, Scientific American
There are unquestionable nutritional and economic advantages of sustained breastfeeding. Even beyond infancy young children return to the breast for comfort when they are sick...and thereby passively receive more food than others who are sick.
Dr. Ted Greiner, “Sustained Breastfeeding, Complementation and Care”:
Katherine Dettwyler…remembers when her younger son’s kindergarten teacher singled him and a schoolmate out. Why, the teacher wanted to know, were these two children so well adjusted, so sociable, so easy to get along with? What did they have in common?
“I said, “They’re the only two children in your class who are still nursing,” said Dettwyler. “Her mouth fell open and bounced on the floor.”
“Dr. Ruth Lawrence, who directs the Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Study Center at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York…herself a mother of 9, sat on the committee that drafted the American Academy of Pediatrics official position on breast feeding, published in 1997, which states that women should nurse for a year and “thereafter as long as mother and child wish.”
“They put no end date on it, “ said Lawrence. “They did that on purpose. They wanted to leave it up to the mother and baby.”
- “How long should a woman breast-feed?” Bo Emerson, Startribune.com Jan. 5, 2001
Given that...humans living in non industrial circumstances...nurse for several years, says Dr. Gartner, researchers should be asking, what are the ill effects of early weaning?...
“The question is, are you doing any harm?” asks Gartner. Until you answer it, he says, “there truly is no basis for any upper limit,” says Gartner.
(Gartner= head of the breastfeeding committee at the AAP, forget their exact name)
“Breast-Feeding Beyond Babyhood, Melissa Healy,
Feb. 5, 2001)
Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child....
Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother...
There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.
“We have a tendency to look down on breast-feeding past a certain age in this country (USA), and it’s misguided,” says Dr. William Sears, a well-known pediatrician and co-author of The Breastfeeding Book. He sees nothing wrong with a mother breast-feeding a 5 year old who wants to. “We act surprised when a woman’s still breast-feeding her child, when really it should be the opposite. We should be saying:’What? You’ve stopped breastfeeding?’ “
...Sears remains adamant that debates over how much nutritional value an older child gets from breast-feeding are pointless. The real value, he says, is cultural. “These days, you open up a paper and read about kids shooting up schools,” Sears says. “In a nutshell, these are disconnected kids. But children who breast-feed a long time time, are, above all, connected. And our society could use a whole lot more connected kids.”
“Breast-Feeding: How Old is Too Old? “ Sara Corbett, New York Times, Feb. 18, 2001.
"You have so many women in the U.S. nursing past infancy that two books written on the subject have chapters on nursing past 4."
-(the late) Elizabeth Baldwin,“In Defense of Breast-Feeding,” Newsweek on www.msnbc.com, Dec. 15, 2000.
.. nursing in many so-called “primitive” or natural societies lasts an average of 5 to 7 years, as it still does in many societies today. Nursing less is actually abnormal from that perspective, and it is my belief that this length of time was the norm for the tens of millions of years before we became “civilized”. Deliberate weaning by the mother is definitely a modern trend.
Anthropologists have reported that in those societies where extended breastfeeding is common, there is an increase in longevity. This is thought to be related to the immunizing function of nursing. As milk production decreases, the immune factors in breastmilk increase. As the human immune system is not fully developed until age 6, it is logical to assume that nursing for at least 6 years is Nature’s plan.
Still, even when we understand the reasons for extended nursing, it is only natural to experience doubts and indecision...In terms of the specific benefits of nursing, the longer (a child) nurses, the better... consider nursing as a decision “in progress”, allowing for continuation for as long as it is working for you and your son, and without remorse if you ever need to stop.
naturalchild.com, child psychologist Jan Hunt
I believe Jan posts at MDC by the way.
More good articles:
"Beyond Toddlerhood: The Breastfeeding Relationship Continues"
by Priscilla Young Colletto
“The Nurse-able Twos” Jennifer Coburn
"A Natural Age of Weaning" by Katherine Dettwyler, PhD
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